Charging Research Fees

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Dear Travel Agent,

I am often approached and asked whether or not it is a good idea to charge a fee to prospective clients when offering to work with them.

I completely understand that time is money, and we have all had many seemingly wonderful prospective clients who wasted our time preparing quotes and fulfilling requests, only to have them buy somewhere else or book on their own.

This is when we imagine ourselves charging for our “wasted” time, or having a FEE for research, or even charging by the hour. What would happen if we were to do so?

Well, let’s look at that from the point of view of the supplier (which is what I was for 23 years), and you – the travel agent, as the client. Ask yourself how many suppliers you would pay a consulting fee to for preparing a quote for you. Would you pay the fee, or go look for another supplier who would do it for free?

As a supplier, we knew who the serious travel agents were, and we invested our time and energy with them. We also knew exactly who the Lookie-Loos were.

You may ask how we could tell? Well, with past experience, and by asking the right questions, we separated the “good” from the “bad” clients. From doing this over and over, and being asked to quote on an already perfect itinerary, we knew that another supplier had already done the job and that this was just another “copy and paste and get me a better price” scenario. Or being asked to quote a trip with an unreal budget; like asking for Dubai, 5 stars, with limo and helicopter rides, and VIP treatment for less than $1,500 per person (even asking to stay at Burj Al Arab).

We dealt with many travel agents, and it has always been my policy to teach them. We would explain why we wouldn’t quote another supplier’s itinerary, and I would advise how pricing for VIP works, and also explain anything else we thought was appropriate to educate the agents about.

In the end, it is your prospective client, and it is your time. Some travel agents do very well by charging a fee. Personally, I still believe in doing business without charging upfront, and being selective about who I am going to work with.

How about you?

Follow me on:
Instagram @ travelwithrosana
Twitter @ travelRosana
Facebook @ Rosana Chermisqui

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Charging Research Fees

  1. Awesome response Rosana!! I often ask myself if I should be charging an upfront fee, and wonder if I was a client…what would I do? I have told clients just contact me for a quote, and offer travel incentives for completed vacations and for referals….the clients love those, and it’s my way of showing my appreciation to my new and repeat clients.

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  2. I’ve went back and forth with myself on whether to start charging a service fee or not. I weighed out my options and noticed my success rate on closing a booking has been greater than some of my fellow agents who charge fees. With that said I have repeat clients and lots of referrals from those clients. I’ll build from there.

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  3. Would I want my realtor to only show me two houses then charge me a fee to see more? No fees allows me to educate travelers about the value of using an agent when commission is already built in! Then when they encounter friends who boast of doing it online themselves, they can explain that it’s “free.” They can also explain that when a person books online, they just did all of the work for free but x online agency is keeping their money for them doing the work! If you take care of the client, the money will come in far greater amounts than fees will bring!

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